A mastermind group is a peer-to-peer mentoring group used to help members solve their problems with input and advice from the other group members.
According to Karyn Greenstreet of The Success Alliance, mastermind groups offer a combination of “brainstorming, education, peer accountability and support in a group setting to sharpen your business and personal skills….Members challenge each other to set strong goals, and more importantly, to accomplish them.”
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Billionaire steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie felt that he gained his entire fortune because of his mastermind group. Another famous mastermind group included Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, President Warren G. Harding, and Harvey Firestone (founder of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company).
Strong mastermind groups have members who are committed to the group, attend meetings, give and receive advice and ideas with honesty, respect, and compassion, applaud each other’s successes and problem solve when goals aren’t attained.
It is important that the members are peers with similar experience levels, who relate to each other on a personal level and are not competitors.
These are not leaderless groups. Mastermind group facilitators provide the structure and the agenda, making sure that each member has sufficient opportunity to talk about their challenges and their plans, and receive feedback during each meeting.
The facilitator may direct the conversation by asking open-ended questions. However, the facilitator is not a mentor or coach. The answers should come from all the group members, which can include the facilitator only after the members have had their say.
The facilitator is responsible for setting and enforcing the ground rules and expectations for the group, which the group members should endorse. These rules should include:
- Membership. Who can join and how they should exit the group.
- Logistics. When, how often, how long. and where will the meetings be?
- Attendance. Attend 100% or 80% of the meetings?
- Participation level. Don’t dominate a conversation or become verbally withdrawn.
- Attention. Avoid distractions and side conversations.
- Participation. Brainstorm and provide advice, plan actions, and hold each other accountable.
- Accountability. How members will be held accountable for followthrough on promised activities.
- Connections. Networking is acceptable, but direct marketing isn’t.
- Confidentiality. Members should feel safe to be open and honest about their problems and concerns.
- Honesty. Be willing to be vulnerable and ask for help. Feedback should be honest, but constructive.
Mastermind groups are an excellent source of ongoing advice, encouragement, and support. If you are feeling isolated without a strong sounding board, join a mastermind group.
Deborah Laurel, The Peer Learning Institute